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Cruising Into the Future – With Your Help

August 25, 2010

Last Saturday I took a break from green thinking and lived a decidedly “ungreen” automotive life for a day. The Woodward Dream Cruise is a celebration of horsepower and anything on wheels, and attracts 40,000 cars and an estimated one million spectators. Woodward Avenue has historical significance. In 1909, a one mile stretch of Woodward was the first concrete paved road in the US and in a way started America’s love for driving. In the 1960s it became the de-facto cruise and drag racing hot spot for the muscle cars coming from Detroit’s Big Three and from the garages of those making them run even faster.

This year I saw more of the newer technology “hot rods” from Tesla and Chevrolet.

It made me think what an event like this might look like in 30 or even 50 years from now. Tesla’s Roadster reaches 60 MPH in less than 4 seconds. Chevrolet’s Volt is slower but attains an nearly infinite effective MPG. This is enabled by battery technology and control systems impossible to build just a few years ago. The vision and persistence of materials scientists and engineers enabled these, and cars like the Nissan Leaf, to make it to the market and give us choices on how we live with our automobiles. EWI tackles these issues by developing processes to join advanced battery materials in ways to make them reliable for 10 or more years of service and at a cost favorable to consumers.

The EWI Energy Center will be hosting the Battery Manufacturing and Joining Technology Symposium to gather all members of the battery supply chain to discuss challenges they face now and into the future. In a sense, a new generation of hot rodders looking for ways to make transportation better, cheaper, faster; just like the cruisers on Woodward have been doing for decades. To help with this we’d love to hear from you, either by attending or by participating in the industry survey. Working as a team we can advance these technologies and create efficient and exciting cars for future generations to cruise their favorite roads in.

Enjoying the Woodward Dream Cruise in my Plymouth Prowler

Kevin Arnold, PE
EWI Energy Center